For football players, winter means long hours in the gym, working to get bigger, faster and stronger. That's when the weak become strong and the slow become fast. However, many young athletes don't even know where to start. Here are five musts for any off-season football strength program.
1. Training for mobility
Too often, young football players are so concerned about getting stronger, they forget about training their bodies to move correctly. Mobility is more than being able to touch your toes. It's the ability to move efficiently and effectively with equal balance, power and speed in all directions. A good mobility session should include (but not be limited to) the following exercises.
- Ankle: Resistant Band Inversions and Eversions
- Knee: Lunges, Step-Ups, Ice Skaters
- Hip: Hurdle work
- Shoulder: Band work, isometrics and dynamic stretching
- Neck: Isometric stretching and static stretching.
2. Training for strength and stability
Off-season football training should always begin with a phase of stability and endurance training. Slow tempos and bodyweight exercises will train your body to handle its own weight. Think about training your body from the inside out. Focus on core strength and develop strength endurance through all planes of motion. Below is a sample stability phase workout for you.
3. Train in phases
Break up your training into short phases. Each phase can last three to five weeks and build off the previous phase. As your strength increases, so should the weight intensity. Correspondingly, reps will go down as sets begin to increase. Here is suggested phasing plan for your off-season football strength training:
- Phase 1: Stability endurance/developmental
- Phase 2: Stability strength
- Phase 3: Hypertrophy (build size/high volume)
- Phase 4: Maximum strength
- Phase 5: Power
- Phase 6: Sport-specific power/speed/skill
4. Train with goals in mind
What do you want to gain from all your hard work? It's important to start with the end in mind. Evaluate your current fitness level. What areas do you feel the need to improve? Write them down and work diligently each day to improve them, one small step at a time.
5. Train yourself how to eat
It's as important to train yourself how to eat as it is to train your body. Nutrition is a habit—and it's easy to form a bad ones. Consume foods that will help you reach your strength goals, and limit the foods that will set you back. Here are some simple rules that you can follow: Tips for gaining weight:
- Drink milk with your meals. Choose 1% milk and try to drink 32 ounces per day.
- Eat every two to three hours.
- Prepare food ahead of time to make it easier to establish good habits.
- Eat 60 percent carbs, 20 percent protein and 20 percent fat.
- Drink water with every meal.
- Eat smaller portions every two to three hours.
- Get your sugar from fruits and vegetables.
- Don't eat fried or processed foods.
- Eat 65 percent carbs, 25 percent protein and 15 percent fat.
- Football Strength Training for Size
- Off-Season Football Workouts, Part 4: Maximum Strength Training
- Weight Training Techniques for Off-Season Football Training
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